'Lilac' Poised to Bloom in Takarazuka Kinen


Lucky Lilac besting Chrono Genesis in the Osaka Hai | JRA


Lucky Lilac (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) attempts to add a fourth career win at the highest level in Sunday's 2,200-meter G1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse. Having proven herself consistent at a high level, Lucky Lilac, who recorded her initial Group 1 victory in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in 2017, won last fall's G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Kyoto in November before finishing runner-up in Sha Tin's G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase the following month. Second behind Danon Kingly (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) in the G2 Nakayama Kinen in her seasonal return Mar. 1, the 5-year-old returned to best Danon Kingly, who finished third, in the 2000-meter G1 Osaka Hai over this course Apr. 5.

“After her last race, she went to Northern Farm Shigaraki, and although restrictions on movement meant I wasn't able to check on her, she has come back looking really well,” said trainer Mikio Matsunaga. “Her form is good, and she has filled out in a way that really makes her look bigger and stronger.”

Mirco Demuro, who will accompany Lucky Lilac, gets the chance to win his third Group 1 title this year.

Chrono Genesis (Jpn) (Bago {Fr}) recorded her most important career win in Kyoto's G1 Shuka Sho last October before crossing the wire fifth-behind winner Lucky Lilac-in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Bouncing back over a yielding turf course to take the Feb. 16 G2 Kyoto Kinen, the 4-year-old found only Lucky Lilac a neck too good in the Osaka Hai and looks to turn the tables on that rival here.

“Last time she drew a wide gate, but quickly got into a position where she settled into stride well. She finished second in the end, but showed her ability, which has definitely improved as she's gotten older,” said trainer Takashi Saito. “She returned from the farm on June 5, and is the type to pick up quickly in training.” The Sunday Racing Co.'s runner will once again be accompanied by her regular rider, Yuichi Kitamura.

Last season's G1 Satsuki Sho hero, Saturnalia (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) added a win in Hanshin's G2 Kobe Shimbun Hai later in September before finishing sixth behind winner Almond Eye (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) in October. Well behind Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) in the G1 Arima Kinen Dec. 22, he appreciated the time, returning a winner in the Mar. 15 Kinko Sho at Chukyo.

“He was helped last time by the lack of noise due to no spectators, and everything went smoothly before the race. He adjusted well to the slow pace, and ran out a comfortable winner,” said assistant trainer Takashi Kotaki of the 2018 G1 Hopeful S. victor. “He's been at the farm since, but on his return to the stable, he's been his usual self as he prepared for this race.” Jockey Christophe Lemaire returns on Saturnalia.

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